The other day I had a dream. Nowhere near as important as Kamuzu Banda’s Gwelo Prison dreams. Nor as cataclysmic as Martin Luther’s. But a dream nevertheless.

It was by no means different from my other dreams except for one small detail. In this particular one I had to visit a urinal. I even felt the relief that follows after emptying a full bladder. However, when I woke up in the morning, my beddings were still dry like they’re every other morning.

Not much of a surprise there, you might say. But then that isn’t how it used to be.

Decades back I would sometimes have dreams that involved playing with friends, say a game of marbles which involved shooting marbles into a target hole. Somewhere in the middle of a game, I would get an overwhelming urge to empty my bladder. Excusing myself from my playmates, I would rush some place reasonably out of view, behind a hedge perhaps, and let the valves go.

Unfortunately, everything would be just dreams except the relieving myself part. The dream would  almost always be abruptly interrupted soon afterwards and I would discover myself almost swimming in wet but still warm beddings.

Alas! I had done it again.

Boy I hated those dreams! I loathed the business of having to find a dry spot in the beddings to sleep in for the remainder of the night. I hated the complicated morning logistics of taking the beddings outside to dry without being seen by my friends.

But despite this, I would still be relieved that it had only been, shall we say, a wet dream with no solids involved. Otherwise…I still shudder at the mere thought!

By the way, do kids these days play marbles? I’ve my doubts. Instead the kids today spend their time playing shoot them up video games on PlayStations, X-Boxes, Wiis and other game consoles. They spend hours honing their skills as baby couch potatoes by slouching on couches—remotes and snacks within easy reach—switching from one cartoon channel to another.

I doubt they’ve even heard of marbles. But their parents, who are now executives, still play it. Except they graduated to playing it with sticks instead of fingers.

And they call it golf.

By the way, have you ever wondered why it is that the higher one goes up the corporate ladder, the smaller and lighter the ball one is likely to play? But come to think of it, it makes perfect sense. You certainly wouldn’t want to heave too heavy a ball as you puff your way up the rungs of a corporate ladder, would you now?

Whatever.  In any case, I believe that avoiding traps on the golf course helps make executives more adept at skirting around, or even through, the intrigues that litter a typical corporate landscape.
 
I’m not an executive so that may explain why I don’t currently play golf. Or perhaps I shun wielding a golf club because of a lingering fear that those dreaded dreams might come back. You see, one early dawn I may dream I was playing golf and in the dream I would dash to relieve myself behind a tree only to wake up in my bed floating in urine given extra pungency by one too many drinks the night before.

Just kidding. To tell the truth, I don’t play golf because nature already bequeathed me with too many handicaps to voluntarily want to acquire one more, even if it be a just a golf handicap. Neither am I too keen on being “under par” when I feel perfectly fine.

However, even though the closest I’ve got to a green is when I watch Tiger Woods on a TV screen, I’ve some advice for the golf-playing executive. And it’s quite simple advice, really. You see, besides a good caddy, you need a good personal assistant. You need an assistant to ensure your handicaps and pars are recorded without any snide comments about your putting inabilities; to guarantee that the appointments made on the golf course aren’t drowned in the apparently mandatory after-game drinks; to make absolutely certain that the business deal made on the fairway is closed; to check the stock movement on the Dow; and to send that e-mail to HQ as you shuffle your way to the 13th hole.

This assistant would accompany you on every trip, be it a business retreat on the shores of Lake Malawi or on top of Zomba Mountain, or a management workshop on a vineyard in Cape Town. This assistant would be with as you and your spouse vacation on the French Riviera. This assistant would even be your constant DBB (dinner, bed and breakfast) companion without ever awakening the green-eyed monster in your significant other.

Ladies and gentlemen the assistant I’m talking about is a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). Or even, these days, a smartphone—sorry to disappoint those of you who had visions of wild three-somes comprising the boss, the wife and the assistant.

But I can see your brows knitted into question marks because you don’t know how to differentiate a PDA from a smartphone.

I must admit that these days the feature lists of these two gadgets read like the list of similarities of identical twins. Besides making phone calls, with these gadgets you can listen to music, manage your photo or video library, create, read and edit documents, use spreadsheets to calculate your mortgage payments, manage your e-mail, and surf the Web. A few even have FM radios just in case you don’t want to miss out on the news on BBC or the shenanigans in our parliament.

They’re even some that have built-in GPSs so you can navigate your way back to the fairway after that howler of a shot into the woods.

So what’s the difference between them if differences between them continue to blur into nothingness?

Well, the significant difference is the way data is input. While PDAs have touch screens, handwriting recognition and soft keyboards, smartphones are generally limited to numeric keypads with a couple of extra keys and buttons to assist with navigation.

Perhaps, I should also mention that PDAs are designed to synch with your desktop computer. Most smartphones aren’t.

In short a fully equipped PDA can easily replace your laptop. Not a smartphone.

By the way, don’t ask me to classify the iPhone. I haven’t lost all my marbles for me to torture myself trying to figure that one out.


 
 

I'm glad that we Malawians, despite our penchant to litter, are very good at recycling.

You don't believe me? Then explain to me why John Tembo is still MCP's leader? Indeed, tell me the reason Bakili Muluzi wants to come back to misrule us and plunder our economy? And while you're at it, why don't you tell me why we still have the likes of Gwanda in our political landscape.

Yes, in Malawi we recycle politicians. That's how we've maintained our environment in a constant state of political pollution. That's the reason we can't rid our parliament of numbnuts who are so myopic they can't see beyond their pockets.

But what ails Malawi?

Why are we still mired in poverty while our leaders become instant millionaires (and instant paupers when they get out of power)? Why is it that we're always at the top when it comes to bad stats (poverty, illiteracy, etcetera) but always anchor the good stats charts (GDP, life expectancy, an so on)?

Why can't we do business without a little something changing hands?

I think I know. It's because our country is misnamed. We need to change the name of our nation, and change it fast, if things are to get any better.

You're shaking your head! You mean you were never taught that nothing good is associated with words preceded by "mal"? OK, get out your dictionary and let's browse through a few of them. Malady. Malaise. Maladapted. Maladministration. Malapportioned. Malcontent. Malarkey. Malappropriate. Malapropism. Maleficence. Malevolence. Malfeasance. Malformation. Malaria.

Starting to get the drift?

Then, of course, there is Malawi. But just in case you think I'm just a maladjusted Malawian with a malfunctioning brain who views Malawi with malice, let me remind you that there's a country in West Africa called, you guessed it, Mali.

Need I say more?

 
 

Let's start off with a quote by an anonymous Zimbabwean citizen: "I've learnt my lesson...I asked God to make me a millionaire, but I forgot to state the currency!"

I suppose even God needs specifics.

And specific we were when the other day me and my mates discussed what ails Malawi's educational system . Over a cold Carlsberg, of course.

We were lamenting the state of our education system when the point came up that the Malawi Junior Certificate examination was a waste of government resources. Why bother administering an exam when it no longer serves as sieve for places in Form 3 (private secondary schools have only one qualification: money)? Why waste time and money when people require MSCE, the GCE equivalent, to be employed as office cleaners?

The taxpayer's money would be better utilised elsewhere.

 

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    Children, too, can have profound thoughts
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    The Three Little Hills (Phiris)